The past month has been very intense. We have released 18 missionaries and the month before 6 more. This week we received 20 new missionaries and received 8 others. This means that over 50% of the mission have new companions, which entails new responsibilities for over 75% of the remaining missionaries. There are new trainers, new assistant to the President, new district leaders, new zone leaders, and senior companions. We have two new missionaries who are only 18 years old. Most of the Africans who come are 23-26 years old. So you can imagine the stress and strain on the younger missionaries who are there trainers, senior companions etc. This is very challenging for them and also for the Africans who have a culture that if I am older than you, I am the boss. So, now everyone gets to learn his/her individual challenges and short-comings. It does work out.
To give you an idea of what happens when someone is taking the lessons or becomes a member. Sister Semken & I were introduced to a young couple who are receiving the lessons. We saw them at church two times and they are very friendly and receptive. They don't speak English so we have elders translate when necessary. Almost two weeks ago we were invited to help with a Family Home Evening presentation. There were about 8-12 people there and this young mother and child came. We had a discussion which got on the subject of women and how they were treated. One man said women are our servants. Well, that didn't sit right with me and I proceeded to explain the proper role of man and woman. The women were so pleased to hear that they are not a lower class. We didn't talk about marriage. Anyway I saw the man the following Sunday and he was glad to get the explanation of man and woman. At the FHE we played games which they joined in and thoroughly enjoyed. FHE is not a lecture time. They thought that it was what they were supposed to do. We also had treats. They were glad to see that not everything is so formal and that all in the family can and should participate. The young lady asked the elders if Sister Semken and I could come to her home and talk about marriage. She and her husband had observed how the members treat their children. They don't want to spank or hit or yell at their children anymore. So, they asked a recent convert how they made the change. They told them that we taught them a better way to teach and train their children and that it is working very well. We go to their home in 15 minutes.
Your missionaries are doing well. We are now seeing many go home and we are both sad and glad. You know what that is like.
Elder Vinson of the Seventy, he spoke in this past conference, is here for the District Conference. The missionaries may get a chance to meet him at the Conference tomorrow. He is wonderful! He is in the West Africa Area Presidency and knows a great deal of Africa. This requires a lot of time for the mission to assist and accommodate him. We learn a great deal from him. We talked about the African life, the missionary roles etc. He said that we notice that those young men from America, Europe adapt faster that many of the Africans. Partly attributed to the scouting program.
We visited Customs yesterday and there seems to be some softening from the letter I wrote 2 weeks ago. We will give you more info as it becomes available. But, one package got through yesterday with not custom duties and we thought it would be approximately $50 US. Not all is as it was yet.
The mission President is back from his surgical procedure and is back to full speed. Your missionaries had a special prayer day or two for him. They are awesome.
We are grateful to you,
Elder & Sister Semken